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Historical Analysis

Historical Analysis

Q) C.L.R. James asked “What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?” and others have suggested that in order to know a people you should study their sport.

A) Jamaica's Michael Manley, the former Prime Minister who died recently, and Trinidad's C. L. R. James -- who predeceased him by some years -- were probably the most eclectic of the political intellectuals produced by the English-speaking Caribbean. Others excelled in one sphere or another, but none combined the range of interests and aptitudes that Manley and James did.

Manley, born in 1924, and James, in 1901, were remarkably similar in many political and intellectual respects. They were equally well known for their strong advocacy of West Indian self-government, their progressive international outlook, their sophisticated knowledge of society and political economy, their charismatic command of the public platform and their articulate spokesmanship on behalf of developing economies in the third world(Glaberman, 2006). Each was a connoisseur of the arts, an insightful critic of music, painting and literature, and an ardent book lover who wrote several of his own.

They also shared a passionate devotion to cricket, a game James grew up playing and Manley spent most of his life watching studiously(Scott, 2004). The intensity of that devotion was uncommon among political intellectuals, even in Britain, where the game originated long before it began flourishing in the Caribbean colonies. So it was also an uncommon achievement that Manley and James, with all their serious intellectual preoccupations, should have produced two of the most important books on cricket ever written: Manley's definitive ''History of West Indies Cricket'' and James's superb ''Beyond a Boundary'' (to both of which we shall return).

But Michael Manley and C. L. R. James were not identical intellectual twins: there were marked differences between them. While both were impressive ...
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